About: A retired electronics engineer -motorola. delveing into new craft ideas and contest entries.


'Thisinstrument uses readily available materials found in the home,craft stores and hardware stores. The zither can also play chords , sharps and flats .
REF- INSTRUCTABLE: Make a mini-harp from a plastic throwing disc.[mistic] 6-28-09 .
This Referenced Instructable gives valuable information on construction and stability.

Step 1: Step 1-MATERIALS-Preliminary Preparations

1-Body-Tray selected for its resonating quality of the wooden bottom.This is found in many arts and crafts stores such as Micheals.Bottom is usually 3 ply 1/16 in. thick wood sheet. This box or tray was sanded, stained and a coat of polyurethane applied before any work starts.Apply glue {goop} in every inside corner and sides of the resonator sheet to eliminate poor response. Finished unit has a 1/8 thick plywood bottom to amplify the notes.
Anyone who is a wood worker can easily make this type box with dimensions shown.{See diagram}
2-Tuners, strings, crimps,-The Ref. Inst. shown here-in gives great details on the tuner material, strings, etc.Basically the tuners are 5/8 size nickle plated steel with the collar molded in.
Crimps are low cost jewelry crimps that can be tubes, beads or U-crimps.
Strings- are high polymer space age plastic elastic type of 1mm.Dia found in all art and crafts stores or Walmart Some times called cord for jewelry crafts and beads making. Nylon will not work since it is very difficult to stretch to a note or pitch and needs a high tension value.Thus this is the beauty of elastic string. No high tensions are needed.
3-Chord keys- I am introducing a novel concept as to make chords.This zither can be made deleting these chord keys Then desired chords are struck using 3 keys of a chord with the in-between notes muted with the left hand.Chord keys here use plastic coffee stirring sticks selected because of their springiness.These sticks are 1/4 in. wide and lengths to 4 inches.
Other springy materials could also be used as plastic sheeting or aluminum 1/32 in sheets.

4 Sharp Keys- Are added as a convenience . Actually sharp notes can be generated with a finger tip placed 1/4 inch down from the tuner.Strumming the string will generated a 1/2 note higher note.
I used black plastic cable ties [11 in. sizes].Cut off about all the excess, bend and glue in place per the drawing shown.All keys can be separately positioned on a wood strip and glues in place before assembly as shown with steel rod materials or large paper clip wire.
Felt finger pads were added later for aid in down pressure of fingers.

5-Tuner Mount Rod. Use a 3/4 in. Diam. good quality rod.Pre-drill 17 holes for 17 notes spaced 1/2 in . apart with a .093 drill bit. Start the closed end cup hooks into each hole . Silicone grease can be used at the tip before starting. Screw all the way to the collar and then 2 more times.
6. Chord Keys-The key material is held down with a clamping holder as shown in the diagram.
First cut stain and stack the sticks on the bottom wood strip then apply top strip and tighten with the 6/32 screw / nut .Ends of sticks at string side must have a muting material attached such as felt.

Step 2: Step 2 -assembly/layout

Refer to mechanical drawing for nominal dimensions and layout.

1-tuner -The pre-drilled 3/4 in. diameter mounting rod is nailed to the sides of the box.Add some goop to the ends .Wire nails 1 to 2 inch long suffice.
2-Anchor Holes Used to anchor strings at the resonator board.1/16 drill bits are used here.
Drill as outlined in the drawing.
3-Bridge. Use 1/8 in. wood dowell rods cut to length and glued 1/8 inch from the drilled holes.
4- Hand rest- Glue precut wood strips to each end .Sand and lacquer.
5-Chord clamps- Glue bottom wood strip to sides of box. Prepare top wood strip . predrill at ends with a .14 drill. to clear 6/32 machine screws .
6-Chord Keys- premount the 7 wood sticks[leaf-springs] per the layout .to bottom strip of wood.Be sure the felt tips are alighned on each string to be muted.
7Sharps -Cut cable ties to 1-1/4 in. L. on large side.Bend and squeeze about 1/4 inch of the flat tail to 90 degrees. Alighn on the carrier wood strip as shown in the diagrams and spot glue at the bend.
Mount this assembly using 1/16 in steel pins bent as shown and inserted into pre-drilled end holes and the 3/4 rod.Observe the pin heights so keys dont touch the strings.Must be 1/8 in. above the strings.Test the key by bending down to the string.
7- Note strings- Connect one end to the cup hook closed with pliers previously per the REF.Inst.
Then two turns counter-clockwise around the shank above the collar and while stretching insert into the resonator anchor holes. Retain with a crimp with pliers.

Step 3: Step-3 Notes

1-Tuning- Each note is final adjusted with the tuning screw. A nail can be used to turn the screw.
ost elastic and non-elastic plastic strings relax for a while then stabilize.The note will drift negative [lower note]. Do not despair as the tuning effort over a 5 day period will stabilize the note to less than a 1/8 note drift in 2 week time of use.
If no drift at all is required , substitute multi-thread strings . They can be found on E-Bay .
2- REF-Inst. as outlined above gives even more information on construction /stability.
" Make a miniharp from a plastic throwing disc. by Mistic, Jun 28,2009."
3- Note Gen- To generate notes use any known instrument as a Casio or Harmonica or a guitar tuner.
4- Color Codes- Use a Marker pen of various colors to dye the clear strings. Ex. Middle C can be Red.



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    16 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 2

    I'm confused... What are the dimensions of the plywood? It looks like a great project, though. I hope to do it.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 2

    Hi J- The resonator box was purchased at Jo-Ann in Arlington Heights Il. It is made of non ply wood about 1/4 in . thick. The resonator surface was about 1/8 thick ply.
    Cost $4.50
    The sides wood are poplar I believe .


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 2

    Thanks! We've got a Jo-Ann's nearby, I'll see what I can find.


    8 years ago on Introduction

     this is wonderful, very good quality! im a musician and am always on the look out for portable instruments, and this one is just fantastic! do you have a website you post these on?

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I have dis continued the web site temorarly due to a hacking problem.. I do have e-mail address tho for questions, aid,


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm...All I get is a black window with a film icon that says "Video is loading". I'm running Firefox and have extensions installed to run an embedded .mov....idk...maybe I'll try dwnling to desktop and run from there. thanks


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    And it sounds project. add a condesner mike and you could start a brass rock band (soft metal ;)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    With some minor modification to the resonator it can be a Lyre.. sweet sound too.... Amlification -I used a Hannah Montana wireless mike -- very nice output..


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    ok- my real player works fine. I dont know much about all there is to know about down loading AV stuff.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Still I not finished reading it (I speak Spanish) but this thing seems to be dramatically good.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Hi- its a good week-end project too. I use my imagination to make this zither . also lyres. that why its fun to make and Play... good luck . mistic